I saw in the bushes a parting of the branches and in the opening a face staring at me with intense curiosity. I smiled and nodded and other faces appeared in the bushes. And so of course they didn’t understand English. So what is there to do? In a small notebook I penciled a sketch of a locomotive with care and then made the sound, ‘choo-choo, chuff-chuff.’
-John Paton Davies, U.S. Diplomat
On August 2, 1943, Davies, 20 other men boarded a C-46 transport plane in India en route to the Chinese city of Chungking. Their flight path took them over the Burma “hump,” but as they crossed the mountains one of the plane’s engines failed and all 21 men parachuted out. 20 survived. They were met on the ground by an indigenous Burmese tribe known as the Naga, who were thought to be headhunters.
Recently the papers of U.S. diplomat John Paton Davies were donated by his family to the Truman Library. Find out more about headhunters and diplomats in Independence, Missouri from our blog and Inside the Vaults at the National Archives.